Did you know that pregnant women are at a higher risk for developing gum disease? Of all the things that are common knowledge about pregnancy, this may not be so well known. There are a few different reasons for this, but taking the proper precautions can reduce the risk and ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.
Why Does Pregnancy Increase the Risk of Gum Disease?
There are a few common characteristics of pregnancy that contribute to the increased risk of developing gum disease, such as:
- Hormones. An increase in the hormone progesterone can cause an increase of plaque, which is a sticky film made of food residue and bacteria that clings to the teeth. Plaque bacteria can eventually infect the gum tissue, causing gum disease.
- Increased blood flow. While you are pregnant, your body will circulate more blood than usual. This increase can cause blood vessels to swell and move closer to the surface of your skin, which includes the blood vessels in your gums. This can cause your gums to swell and bleed, making them more at risk for infection.
- Morning sickness. In the first trimester when morning sickness is at its worst, you may find yourself vomiting frequently. The stomach acid that comes up when you vomit can erode your tooth enamel and irritate your gums, making you more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay.
- Gestational diabetes. A common condition that develops during pregnancy for some women is gestational diabetes. Even if it only occurs during pregnancy and subsides after the baby is born, diabetes is associated with gum disease because of the increase in sugar in the blood and saliva.
Should You Go to the Dentist If You’re Pregnant?
If you go to the dentist every 6 months according to the schedule recommended by the American Dental Association, at least one appointment will occur during your pregnancy. Some women question whether or not they should go to the dentist while they are pregnant, wondering if it is safe to do so. One could argue that it is more important than ever to go to the dentist while you are pregnant.
Keeping on schedule with your regular dental appointments allows your dentist to diagnose gum disease if it is present. Symptoms of gum disease include swollen, red, or bleeding gums. Early stage gum disease is called gingivitis, which is much easier to treat than full blown gum disease. If you notice that your gums are bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth, you may want to call your dentist to move up your next appointment.
How is Gum Disease Treated?
Gum disease treatment starts with removal of plaque, which is typically the cause of the infection. Once plaque is removed from the surface of your teeth, it may also need to be removed from under your gums. After the plaque is removed, the roots of your teeth can be smoothed out using special dental tools so that the gums can form a better bond with the roots. These processes are referred to as scaling and root planing.
How To Prevent Gum Disease During Pregnancy
In addition to keeping up with regular dental appointments, the best way to prevent gum disease during pregnancy is to practice good oral hygiene habits. Brush your teeth twice a day to remove plaque from the surface of your teeth. Floss once a day to remove plaque from between your teeth and along the gum line. Consider using a fluoride mouthwash to help keep oral bacteria levels in check. Also be on the lookout for the symptoms of gum disease and call your dentist if you notice any.
Holzinger Periodontics Can Treat and Prevent Gum Disease
If you develop gum disease during pregnancy, rest assured that it is a normal occurance and very treatable. Holzinger Periodontics can treat your gum disease and help prevent it from coming back during and after your pregnancy.
Contact us today at either of our conveniently located offices to schedule an appointment.